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Bills beef up D-line with DE A.J. Epenesa

Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Buffalo Bills selected defensive end A.J. Epenesa out of Iowa in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, 54th overall.

Epenesa, who recorded 14.5 tackles as a junior at Iowa, provides the Bills with another pass-rusher to go along with 2019 first-round selection Ed Oliver.

Prospect Profile

School: Iowa
Height: 6-5
Weight: 275 lbs


  • Outstanding size, strength, and length
  • Excellent run defender with strong, heavy hands
  • Good hand placement to get inside, control rep
  • Stacks, sheds, locates and makes play on the ball
  • Anchor to not give up ground against the run
  • Technically sound pass-rusher with a good plan of attack
  • Refined hand usage for a deep arsenal of rush moves
  • Already wins with a rip, swipe, bull, push-pull, and long arm
  • Added value as inside pass-rusher


  • Disappointing athletic profile
  • Lacks explosiveness to get upfield, threaten edge
  • Doesn't have speed or bend to run the arc
  • Does best work inside but doesn't have size for every-down role there

Bottom line

Epenesa should have a productive NFL career ahead of him - don't let the athletic numbers fool you. While he may not have the traits necessary to consistently threaten the edge, there are many other ways he wins, including inside. He's a polished pass-rusher, and his best role at the next level will be as a base defensive end, either at a 7- or 5-technique, who can transition inside to match up with guards at the 3-technique in passing situations. Epenesa is an every-down defender who should make an immediate impact.

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